Kostas Antetokounmpo

California Notes: Poole, Kostas, Smailagić, Walton

As the Warriors strive to make a return to the playoffs, they owe it to themselves to give young reserve guard Jordan Poole more minutes, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area opines. Poole can provide some ball-handling for the second unit, a skill that is not a strength for his fellow backup guard Brad Wanamaker. With a 19-18 record, the Warriors are currently the No. 10 seed in the crowded Western Conference, which would qualify them for the play-in portion of the 2021 playoffs.

After Jordan Poole outperformed expectations playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League Orlando “bubble,” Monte Poole believes the time has come for him to get extended run spotting Stephen Curry in the second and fourth quarters during the All-Star point guard’s allocated rest breaks. Poole averaged 22.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 3.5 APG across 11 games (all starts) with Santa Cruz.

There’s more out of California:

  • Lakers reserve forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, who signed his second two-way contract with Los Angeles during the offseason, has entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Center Marc Gasol remains away from the team in coronavirus protocols as well.
  • Warriors forward Alen Smailagić has been recalled from Golden State’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team announced in a press release. Smailagić averaged 7.5 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 10 games for Santa Cruz.
  • While Kings head coach Luke Walton‘s job remains safe entering the second half of the 2020/21 season, Sacramento’s roster may undergo some changes with the March 25 deadline fast approaching, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee.

L.A. Notes: Horton-Tucker, LeBron, AD, COVID-19, Mann

With his second consecutive impressive preseason performance on Sunday, second-year Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker is making a strong case to be part of the team’s regular season rotation, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes.

“It’s going to make my job difficult for sure,” head coach Frank Vogel said when asked about finding a role for Horton-Tucker, who poured in 33 points in Sunday’s win to go along with 10 rebounds, four assists, and four steals.

“We have a very deep team. No minutes are guaranteed,” Vogel added. “He’s going to keep playing at a high level, and that should push everybody else to stay playing at a high level. It does give us that luxury of having him carry the load some for some of our guys who played deep in the championship run last year and had a short offseason.”

Even if the Lakers stay relatively healthy this season, the club should prioritize finding regular minutes for Horton-Tucker, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says the franchise will need to develop young talent if it wants to remain a title contender for years to come

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis didn’t play at all during the team’s first two preseason contests, but they’ll both be “ready to go” when the regular season gets underway next week, according to Vogel (link via Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times).
  • Both the Lakers and Clippers were missing players on Sunday due to “excused absences” believed to be related to the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Those absences may be related to inconclusive tests or contact tracing, so they don’t necessarily mean the individual tested positive for COVID-19, according to Greif, who notes that the Lakers were without Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok, while the Clippers were missing Reggie Jackson and assistant coach Chauncey Billups.
  • Although Terance Mann has seen some time at shooting guard and small forward, the Clippers view the 24-year-old as a point guard and expect him to be a key contributor off the bench, as Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register writes.

Lakers Re-Sign Kostas Antetokounmpo To Two-Way Contract

The Lakers have brought back forward Kostas Antetokounmpo on a new two-way contract, the team announced today.

Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s younger brother spent the 2019/20 season with the Lakers on a two-way deal. Although he logged just 20 total minutes in five games at the NBA level, Kostas was a full-time starter for the South Bay Lakers in the G League, averaging 14.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 1.3 BPG on 62.3% shooting in 38 games (25.5 MPG).

The Lakers didn’t issue Antetokounmpo a qualifying offer before last week’s deadline, so he would’ve been free to join any team in unrestricted free agency. But he’ll return to the club instead, alongside fellow two-way player Devontae Cacok.

[RELATED: 2020/21 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]

In bringing back Antetokounmpo and Cacok, the Lakers are one of two teams not turning over either of their two-way slots. The Celtics (Tacko Fall and Tremont Waters) are the other.

World Cup Notes: Kuzma, Barnes, Belinelli, K. Antetokounmpo

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma helped his bid to earn a World Cup roster spot in Team USA’s exhibition opener, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Playing in front of front of a partisan crowd in Anaheim that chanted for him every time he touched the ball, Kuzma contributed seven points, five rebounds and three assists in Friday’s win over Spain.

Kuzma is considered on the bubble to make the final roster, even after a series of big-name stars pulled out. He says he’s following the orders of coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, who have asked him to contribute in non-glamorous parts of the game such as defense, rebounding, getting loose balls and making the right decision when the ball is in his hands.

“I’m not one to really grade my performances, but I think my energy was at a high level,” Kuzma said after the game. “That’s the only thing I can really control.”

There’s more World Cup news to pass along:

  • Defections of top talent have led to skepticism about whether this version of Team USA can bring home a gold medal, but Harrison Barnes tells Marc Spears of ESPN that the players are using that as motivation. De’Aaron Fox and P.J. Tucker were the latest players to announce that they’re leaving the team“We hear the noise,” Barnes said. “It’s just about the 14 guys that we got here right now, and when we go to Australia (for exhibition games), it’s about just us, getting better, continuing to grow closer on and off the floor, and we’ll go from there.”
  • Italy is adopting a similar attitude about being ranked 11th in the field, relays Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. Spurs guard Marco Belinelli explained the team’s mindset in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’ve seen it on Instagram and immediately took a screenshot, saving it on my phone”, Belinelli said, “We’re not in the top 10, I’ll keep it as motivation. We have to grow as a team, both on offense and defense, and help each other out on the rebounds.”
  • Kostas Antetokounmpo has been cut from the Greek squad, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The move leaves the team with just two Antetokounmpo brothers, Giannis and Thanasis. It has been an eventful summer for Kostas, who was waived by the Mavericks last month and claimed by the Lakers.

Lakers Claim Kostas Antetokounmpo

The Lakers have claimed forward Kostas Antetokounmpo off waivers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Antetokounmpo will head to Los Angeles on a two-way contract.

Antetokounmpo, the younger brother of Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, was waived by the Mavericks last week after appearing in just two games with the team. He spent most of the 2018/19 season with Dallas’ G League affiliate, holding per-game averages of 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

Antetokounmpo was selected No. 60 overall by Philadelphia in the 2018 draft, ultimately getting dealt to Dallas later that night. He’ll join undrafted Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell as current Lakers players on two-way deals.

Mavs Waive Kostas Antetokounmpo

The Mavericks have waived forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, according to a team press release.

The brother of league Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo had a two-way contract with the Mavs.

Daryl Macon holds the other two-way deal with Dallas. With Antetokounmpo out of the picture, Penn State alum and shooting guard Josh Reaves may have his contract converted a two-way deal. He agreed to sign an Exhibit 10 deal earlier this summer.

The 6’10” Antetokounmpo was chosen by the 76ers late in the second round of the 2018 draft. Dallas acquired him in a draft-night deal. He saw action in two games last season, making his NBA debut on March 20 in Portland.

“We are excited for Kostas to pursue other professional opportunities,” Mavs GM Donnie Nelson said in a statement. “Kostas worked very hard to improve his game and we are proud to have been a step in his development.”

Antetokounmpo played in five summer league games in Las Vegas this month, averaging 5.8 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 13.5 MPG.

The brothers are expected to play for Greece in the FIBA World Cup.

And-Ones: Trades, Antetokounmpo, World Cup

Jae Crowder would be a nice contingency plan for the Warriors should they lose Kevin Durant in free agency, Kevin Pelton contends in a piece for ESPN+. Pelton argues a deal that sends Crowder, who has one year left on his contract, to Golden State for Shaun Livingston and a future first-rounder makes sense for both sides.

Other ESPN insiders write about the trade they’d like to see this summer, with Bobby Marks breaking down a Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade that sends Eric Gordon to Philadelphia and Clint Capela to Sacramento. The whole piece is worth checking out.

As we brace for an offseason of change, let’s take a look at some notes from around the league:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo will play for Greece in the Basketball World Cup, according to Demetris Nellas of the Associated Press“Whether I play the 1 [point guard] or the 5 [center], I don’t care,” the NBA MVP said. “I’m a basketball player. I want to help the team any way I can.”
  • The NBA has announced that the Academy Games will be in the United States for the first time in history. Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com provides a detailed look at the games in Atlanta, relaying that the camp will feature eight teams and approximately 90 players from around the world.
  • Isaiah Whitehead will play for the Trail Blazers‘ Summer League team, The Athletic’s Michael Scotto relays (Twitter link).
  • The Mavericks have announced their Summer League roster and former first-rounder Cameron Payne is among the notable players. Kostas Antetokounmpo, the brother of Giannis, is also playing for the team in Las Vegas.
  • Semaj Christon will play for the Kings‘ Summer League team, Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia tweets.
  • Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox has been invited to join Team USA’s Select Team, which will hold training camp in Las Vegas this summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports passes along (Twitter links). Nets center Jarrett Allen has also been invited.

[In case you missed it: Team USA Announces 20-Player Roster For World Cup]

Mavericks To Sign Josh Reaves

JUNE 26: Reaves is expected to sign an Exhibit 10 deal with the Mavs rather than a two-way pact, Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News hears (Twitter link).

Reaves’ contract could be converted into a two-way later in the offseason, and not signing him to a two-way deal right away would allow Dallas to retain and evaluate both Macon and Antetokounmpo for a little while longer.

JUNE 21: The Mavericks will sign Penn State’s Josh Reaves to a two-way contract, tweets Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Their interest was first reported by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link).

The 6’5″ shooting guard averaged 10.6 points and 5.0 rebounds during his senior season with the Nittany Lions. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in the Big 10.

Dallas ended the season with its two-way spots occupied by Daryl Macon and Kostas Antetokounmpo. Both players have two-year deals, so one would need to be waived to make room for Reaves.

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Spalding, K. Antetokounmpo, Brunson

Coach Rick Carlisle is telling Dallas fans that they’ve got something special in rookie Luka Doncic, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. The Mavericks have been thrilled about the 19-year-old’s potential ever since they were able to engineer a deal with the Hawks to acquire the No. 3 pick. That excitement grew last week as Doncic was in town to play pickup games with a few of his teammates.

“Off of what I’ve seen over the last two days,” Carlisle said, “anybody who doesn’t jump on season tickets now is going to sorely regret it later, that’s all I’ll say.”

Doncic was among the most celebrated players in Europe before entering this year’s draft, being named EuroLeague Most Valuable Player and winning the league’s Final Four MVP honors last season. J.J. Barea, who was among the players at the pickup sessions, came away impressed with his new partner in the Mavericks’ backcourt.

“He’s not quick, but he’s going to play at a good pace, always under control,” Barea said. “He’s tall and can pass over people. He’s a great passer. And he can shoot it, too, so you’ve got to guard him.” 

There’s more tonight from Dallas:

  • The Mavericks gave second-round pick Ray Spalding a four-year contract, but he’ll probably have to prove himself in the G League this season, Sefko writes in a player profile. The 56th player selected, Spalding will be stuck behind free agent addition DeAndre Jordan and a host of veteran big men on the Mavericks’ depth chart.
  • Two-way player Kostas Antetokounmpo has a long way to go to catch up with his famous brother, Sefko notes in another profile. He will be limited to 45 days in the NBA if he remains on the two-way deal. Like Giannis, Kostas possesses tremendous athleticism, but Sefko states that he will have to get stronger and improve his offense to become an effective NBA player.
  • Dallas thinks Jalen Brunson might be the steal of the second round, but playing time could be an issue, Sefko adds in a separate piece. The reigning Wooden Award winner is stuck behind Doncic and Dennis Smith as the starting backcourt and will compete for minutes with Barea and Wesley Matthews.

Contract Details: Bolden, Carter, Harrell, Smart

Sixers forward Jonah Bolden has received the largest contract of any rookie second-round pick this summer, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The 36th player taken in the 2017 draft, Bolden spent a season with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel before coming to the NBA. Philadelphia gave him a four-year, $7MM deal with a starting salary of $1.69MM, although the third and fourth seasons are non-guaranteed.

The Nets signed Rodions Kurucs to a similar arrangement, Pincus adds (Twitter link). The 40th pick in this year’s draft, Kurucs will make $1.62MM in his first year and has incentives that could bring the value of his four-year contract up to $6.96MM. The first three seasons are fully guaranteed.

Pincus passes on a few more details about deals signed this summer:

  • Although Jevon Carter was taken 32nd overall, he signed for just the minimum salary over two seasons, less than others in his draft range (Twitter link). However, he received a full guarantee from the Grizzlies on both years. Jalen Brunson, taken at No. 33 by the Mavericks, makes more per season but is locked into a four-year deal (Twitter link). He will receive $1.23MM in his rookie year, with minimum salaries for the next three seasons. The first three years are fully guaranteed. Elie Okobo, the 31st pick, signed a four-year agreement with the Suns that will pay him $1.24MM in his first year, with three seasons at the minimum to follow. Only his first two years are guaranteed, and Phoenix has a team option on the final season (Twitter link).
  • Among the two-way contracts handed out this summer, only four players signed multi-year deals. Kostas Antetokounmpo of the Mavericks, Billy Preston of the Cavaliers, Yuta Watanabe of the Grizzlies and Thomas Welsh of the Nuggets all have two-year agreements (Twitter link).
  • The Clippers will pay Montrezl Harrell $6MM in each season of his two-year, $12MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart has a base salary of $11.16MM in the first year of his new deal, but $500K of likely incentives place the cap hit at $11.66MM. The incentives remain in effect for each season of his four-year contract.